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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

GI’s Fight Back

Howard Petrick
With the court martial on May 23 of Pvt Ken Stolte and PFC Dan Amick at Fort Ord, we have seen another infringement of constitutional rights of GI’s who are opposed to the war in Vietnam. Ken and Dan were charged with conspiring to commit an offense “to the prejudice of good order and discipline” (UCMJ Article 81 and 134). Their sole crime was issuing a leaflet calling for “uniting and organizing to voice our opposition to this war.” For this attempt to exercise their constitutional rights, they must spend four years at hard labor, receive a dishonorable discharge, reduction in grade, and all forfeiture of pay. Dan and Ken are only two of a growing number of GI's who are awakening to the fact that if GI's want rights they will have to fight for them.

American GI's now are not swallowing the line of bull that the Army brass has been giving them for the last four years about how we are winning the war in Vietnam. As GI's stop and look at the way the war is really going, they easily see the contradictions betweem what they're being told and the way it really is. They now see that the Tet offensive which, according to the Pentagon, was the NLF's final desperate attempt has lasted a good deal longer than Tet. It has, in fact, kept the United States and ARVN forces on the defensive since January 31. They are also aware that the peace talks are only a cover-up for diverting the American peo ple's attention from the war while they are still sending as many GI's to Vietnam. The administration's lack of concern for the individual GI can be seen in their desire to talk about stopping the bombing of North Vietnam, while the average week- ly casualty rate is the highest in the history of the war.

The so-called “peace candidates', McCarthy and Rockefeller, talk about wanting to end the war. But just as Johnson says he wants to end the war, they would rather sit down and talk with North Vietnam at the peace tables than save the lives of thousands of GI's by bringing them home NOW!

It is now becoming clear that if the American GI's don't want to fight this war, they are going to have to make it known to the American people that the best way to support them is to demand to bring them home and that all inductees be released so that they can go “back to the block”. GI's who, more than any other- segment of American society are affected by this war, must understand the impact that their voices and actions can have on the American people. The antiwar movement among GI's has, up to this point, played a very important role in deepening the antiwar movement among the American people. Actions of GI's such as the Fort Hood Three, who refused to go to Vietnam, have had a profound effect on orienting the antiwar movement toward working with GI's and also brought about the idea of GI's working within the Army among' other GI's who are against the war.

Since the Fort Hood Three, we have seen the continuous growth of antiwar activities among GI's. Most of this has taken the form of GI's rapping and distrubuting [sic] liturature [sic] to fellow GI's and fighting to continue the expression of their constitutional rights. In such cases as mine at Fort Hood, Andy Stapp at Fort Sill, and Cline and Tator at Fort Jackson, the Army has attempted to stop the spread of antiwar dissent by threatening GI's with court martial on trumped-up charges, continual harrassment [sic] by the brass, and, in the case of Stapp and myself, undesirable discharges. It is important to understand that the only means that the Army brass has at its disposal is to attempt to threaten antiwar GI's with court martial or other disciplinary action (Article 15). This threat alone, it must be understood; is a defensive move by the brass to scare the GI's into shutting-up and going along with the game. The Army is in a position where they are afraid to allow a GI to exercise his constitutional rights of speaking out and participating in actions against the war, because he becomes a threat to the military buraeucracy [sic].

These threats against antiwar GI's are nothing more than bluffs -- if the GI's call these bluffs by fighting back, they can force the brass to retreat as well as gain support and momentum among the GI's to continue their fight against the war. If GI's fail to fight back against these threats, they will eventually be engulfed by the attack which the military bureaucracy can thrust upon a single GI. This has been the case of hundreds of GI's who are now serving time in stockades and federal prisons throughout the country. The impact of antiwar sentiment in the Army has oriented the antiwar movement in this country towards working with and helping GI's who, as you yourself know, desperately need an ally on the outside to work with. The antiwar movement will be able to help GI's by providing them with literature on the war, their rights, what GI's are doing on other posts, as well as building antiwar actions near military installations so that the GI's can participate on a large scale. It will also be able to establish coffee houses outside Army posts as well as legal assistance and legal defense for GI's who are harrassed [sic] by the brass for their antiwar views or actions. In return, GI's will give the antiwar movement a new vitality and impetus for reaching out. You will also give the antiwar movement the ability to end this war in Vietnam. GI actions within the antiwar movement will inspire and prove to the movement as a whole that it is possible to reach out to the entire American public including the most important section, the GI's themselves. GI's are the segment of society which can best end the war. With the support of the other organized sections' of the population against the war, they can demand that they be able to exercise their constitutional rights, that inductees be released, and that the troops be brought home NOW!

Task Force , no. 1

 

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